Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy hopeful PGA-LIV saga wraps soon

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Justin Thomas knows every tournament can’t be the equivalent of the NFL’s Pro Bowl. But he couldn’t help but notice the continued absence of some of the best players at the game when he hit the course at The Players Championship.

“Not every NFL game is a Pro Bowl, but it essentially it is, right?” Thomas asked rhetorically Wednesday. “it’s all the best in their specific sport, and it’s an extremely small percentage in the grand scheme of things of how many play professionally in their sport. But there’s nothing better than Sundays when you can just sit on the couch and you get to watch some freak athletes go play football and hit each other all day.

“I mean, so I don’t know, but that’s kind of the main thing I feel like I’ve — I feel like would be, is beneficial to fans and is beneficial to us.”

Thomas said he thinks back to playing golf at Alabama and how beneficial it was to him as a younger player to have a friendly rival in Justin Spieth to push him.

“I know Jordan and he and I fed off each other in 2017, 2018, 2016, and we kind of pushed each other a little bit. We may not have had a conversation about it, but I know internally I don’t want him to beat me, and I’m pretty sure he feels the same way,” Thomas said. “So I think getting all the best players in the world together more often is just going to create a more and more competitive nature and which I guess would result in a better product.”

Alienating fans became a talking point in recent weeks because of the product, but largely because little has been shared regarding the progress of a potential merger between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour.

Rory McIlroy said Wednesday he believes fans are growing weary of the prolonged discussions about golf eventually bringing the best players to marquee events.

“I think, if I were to put my own perspective on it, I think it’s because fans are fatigued of what’s going on in the game, and I think we need to try to reengage the fan and reengage them in a way that the focus is on the play and not on talking about equity and all the rest of it,” McIlroy said. “That’s why I said, the sooner that this is resolved, I think it’s going to be better for the game and better for everyone, the fans and the players.”

Thomas said resolution to the negotiations would spare players from feeding the news cycle with more LIV-PGA chatter.

“I don’t mean this disrespectfully,” he said at his press conference Wednesday. “but it’s like: we get asked it by y’all and y’all either write about it or it’s the headlines or whatever it is, and like we know or I know coming into a press conference, I’m probably going to get asked a question about LIV, I’m probably going to get asked a question about this. It’s like, but if I don’t, then it doesn’t happen. But I also understand that that’s what’s going on in our sport and that’s what y’all are here for and that’s what we have to talk about.

“But it’s not the same fatigue that I felt probably like six months or a year into it, when it was so new that nobody knew what was going on and all anybody could talk about in the locker room was what was going on.

“I’ve just tried to kind of remove myself from most of the conversations because I just don’t — I haven’t found the benefit to it. I’m just, I don’t want to say hoping for the best – that sounds kind of hopeless – but just trying to remember or help look at the bigger better things going on kind of thing.”

McIlroy is losing patience, but not confidence, those bigger and better things are coming.

“I want the train to speed up so we can get this thing over and done with,” he said.